Each year, we witness the devastating impacts that hurricanes can cause. Hurricanes are not just a threat to coastal communities. High winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, and flooding can be felt hundreds of miles inland, potentially causing loss of life and catastrophic damage to property. As Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac have reminded us, it is not just major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) that we need to worry about; all hurricanes have the ability to cause significant damage.
Please join us as we look at the hazards and risks that hurricanes pose and how we can each be better prepared to deal with the devastating consequences they often leave behind.
Hurricane Season is June 1 to November 30
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes.
Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30
Before, during and after a disaster, getting relevant information is critical. Disasters can be both predictable and unpredictable. In either situation, having timely and accurate information is key to your preparedness efforts. Early warning provides valuable time for preparation and planning. When disasters strike with little or no warning, access to critical information will provide you with the information such as potential hazards/risks, road closures, power outages and shelter locations.
Get up to the minute local emergency information through Alert Bowie 2.0, a free service available to individuals who live or work in the Bowie area. Individuals choose how they want to receive messages – by text message, via email, by mobile application, and in some important cases, by a telephone call to your home or mobile phone. Not only does Alert Bowie provide emergency alerts, it's also a terrific source of information for keeping up about what's going on in Bowie, from water main breaks, to events, to crime alerts, to job openings with the City, you'll be among the first to know if you're getting emergency alerts and Bowie E-News messages through Alert Bowie.
To sign up visit www.cityofbowie.org/alerts.
One of the most critical features of an individual / family preparedness plan is reunification. Reunification is the planned procedure for how you will reunite / communicate with family members (including extended family) in the event an emergency occurs while your family is separated or becomes separated as a result of the emergency.
Here are some great pointers:
- Children should always have an ID on their person and, ideally, a written list of family contact numbers.
- Parents should always know who is supposed to pick up a child from school
- Know your children's school disaster plans and your workplace disaster plan.
- Designate emergency rendezvous points to include:
- Neighborhood Meeting Place
- Out-of-Neighborhood Meeting Place
- Out-of-Town Meeting Place
- Know the hospitals closest to all places where the family members spend lots of time (schools, work etc.)
- Designate an out-of-town relative or friend as a contact point in case of a community wide disaster
- Use that contact person as an information clearinghouse for loved ones.
- Make sure critical phone numbers and address are stored in cell phone.
- Review plan with family regularly.
Be Self Sufficient
During a disaster, individuals and families must be able to survive on their own for at least 72 hours with adequate food, water and supplies following a disaster.
Below is a list of emergency supplies you might consider when assembling a personal or family emergency cache:
- Flashlight and radio, either hand-cranked or battery-powered, with extra batteries
- At least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. A normally active person needs about three-quarts of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. Water is also needed for food preparation and sanitation.
- At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food for members of your household, including pet food and considerations for special dietary needs. Include a nonelectric can opener for canned food.
- First aid kit, medications, and medical supplies; and battery backup power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Be Wise - Emergency preparedness is more than just having supplies on hand before the next hurricane or blizzard strikes.
Read your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Know what your deductible is. Ask “what if” questions of your agent, such as “If I have a fire in my house, will you replace my belongings?” “What documentation will I need to get items replaced?” “Am I insured against sewer backups?” and “What incidents are excluded from my coverage?”
The Maryland Insurance Administration has published the Consumer Guide to Homeowners Insurance and An Insurance Preparedness Guide for National Disasters. These helpful publications are available at www.mdinsurance.state.md.us.
Create a written or photographic record or inventory of your valuables and store it in a safe deposit box or other off-site location. Consider also keeping a copy on a CD or flash drive in your disaster kit, so that you can provide it to your insurance company following a loss; this will allow you to start the insurance/recovery process more quickly.
Scan important records such as vital records, medical records, and financial documents, and save the files on a disk or flash drive. You may also want to password-protect the data you have stored in case of loss or theft. Store the back-up records in a safe deposit box or other off-site location.
If you have too many records or no way to scan/copy them, store them in a flood/fire proof home safe or a safe deposit box. Also consider giving back-up copies of important documentation to family members to store for you.